Wildfire – San Diego County, CA, USA
Cedar Fire 2003
* This view is looking east over the small town of El Cajon; towards my former home in the mountains that are ablaze.
* Update: Friends tell me that there were 9 separate confirmed fires in San Diego today, and that temperatures are expected to reach or exceed 100F tomorrow. If winds die down they expect to bring in 22 military aircraft to assist with fire suppression efforts. However, that is a big if—Santa Ana winds are notorious for sticking around for a while. SFD
It is very unusual for wildfires to break out in the backcountry of San Diego in the Spring. September and October are typically the months that hurricane-strength Santa Ana winds plague the county, and fuel the catastrophic fires that periodically rip through Southern California. Global Warming, Climate Change, call it what you will. The fire season has shifted dramatically, and lengthened significantly.
While living in San Diego Country Estates, an upscale equestrian community located near the small town of Ramona (in San Diego’s east county), I experienced firsthand the devastation these fires can cause. In October 2003 the Ceder Fire erupted only a few miles from our house, and within hours had morphed into the 2003 Firestorm (containing some 15 out of control fires) that ultimately killed fifteen people (Five of whom died in close proximity to our home). Two houses, only one block away, caught fire and burned completely. We did not evacuate, and chose to remain behind to protect our property—we were cutoff and isolated for a week (thankfully we were prepared for such an emergency, and had stockpiled sufficient food and water for ourselves and our livestock). The 2003 Firestorm became the largest fire in California’s history. Four years later we had a repeat performance, or as Yogi Berra would say: It was déjà vu all over again.
San Diego County is once again on fire. Major road closures, and mass evacuations are the order of the day. Firefighters, law enforcement and possibly the military will all be stretched to capacity. I still have most of my family, and many friends who live in San Diego—I send them my best wishes. And to my son Shawn, a Corporal with the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, take care amigo and be safe.
Portions of Interstate 15 and Interstate 5 have been closed, along with State Highway 76 and smaller service roads. The fires continue to rage from Camp Pendleton in the north, almost to the Mexican border in the south. Hopefully, firefighters will be able to contain this quickly moving blaze, but if history repeats itself it could take weeks and thousands upon thousands of man-hours. Although I no longer own my beautiful home in the country, hopefully it will survive unscathed as it did on two previous occasions. Santa Ana winds are a seasonal weather phenomenon unique to Southern California, and can drive wildfires at speeds in excess of 85 to over 100 mph. It is a truly terrifying sight to see in person, and I will never forget my two close calls with this fury of nature.
San Diego Country Estates
Ramona, CA, USA